Huge fires broke out in the brush areas around Qardaha, the ancestral town of the President Bashar al-Assad, with eyewitnesses saying that the fires continued for hours as columns of black smoke rose from the villages in the coastal province of Lattakia.
The area is still considered a center of support for the Assad government in Syria. The reasons behind the blaze are not yet clear, however residents were evacuated from the villages which were subjected to the fire.
Loyalist media reported that the fire was the result of arson, because the flames were lit in several unconnected areas of the Lattakia countryside at the same time.
These sources added that the flames were ignited in: Sudd Belouran in the Lattakia countryside, the village of Al-Khashkhasha east of Qardaha, in Areeza Deirotan in northeast Qardaha, and in Harf al-Maeitra in the furthest northwest.
The sources said the aim of the fires was to disperse the firefighters and exploit the high wind speeds, which led the fires to spread rapidly and produce great damage to natural forests.
Local media said that the fires started on Sunday afternoon from a number of villages around the city of Qardaha but the fire brigades and civil defense forces in the coast did not intervene to extinguish the blazes until early in the morning of the next day, Monday.
The areas of the Lattakia countryside, Tartous and the Hama countryside witness frequent acts of arson, in which people can benefit from the burned trees to use in producing fuel.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.